As Shakespeare nearly wrote, all the world's a stage, but someone has to manage it. And it's been a good week for recognising those who do.
On Monday it was Stage Manager Day on Twitter, as orchestrated by the Stage Management Association. Professionals from across the industry joined in, with some fine tributes pouring in. And Curtain Call marked the occasion by sharing some of our favourite backstage pictures of these headphone-clad heroes in action.
But rather than just giving stage managers a single day in the spotlight, some productions have taken things a step further. The Reduced Shakespeare Company have for the first time asked their ASM to join them on stage to take a bow for their latest show, William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Show (Abridged). At the Hackney Empire, the backstage team always join the curtain call of the annual panto. And at the National Theatre the final performance of a run is often marked by the appearance of the entire crew on stage.
Quite right too. Although most technicians don't seek recognition - they prefer to stay in the shadows - their work deserves applause just as much as those on the stage. This isn't news to anyone who's participated in live theatre, but it's always worth remembering.
Another little recognised fact is that technical teams often stick together, just like artists will often have longstanding collaborations. For example, the stage management crew that worked on Hamlet at the Barbican last year is now overseeing another hot ticket - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And there are countless examples of in-house technical partnerships that have endured for decades. The intuition these people share matters; often decisions have to be taken in a split second to avert disaster.
Good stage managers are the oil that keep the wheels of live theatre turning. And, like oil in any engine, something would happen if they were absent - the machine would grind to a halt. So when you do get the chance to recognise the work of stage managers, or for that matter any member of the backstage crew, please do. Heartily.
- Theo Bosanquet
Listen to this week's Curtain Call podcast on iTunes, which features interviews with stage managers from across the West End.
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